The Scripps Research Institute - At The Forefront

November 2013

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A New Way to Treat Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the brain and spinal cord that causes limb weakness and numbness, fatigue, vision problems, slurred speech, memory difficulties and depression, among other problems. The average life expectancy of someone living with MS is 10 years fewer than people without the disease. Current therapies are only partially effective and often have significant adverse side effects.

However, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a set of compounds that may be used to treat multiple sclerosis in a new way that causes fewer side effects.

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Team of researchers for multiple sclerosis

Left to right: Assistant Professor Luke Lairson, Assistant Professor Brian Lawson, Research Associate Virginie Tardif, first author and graduate student Vishal Deshmukh.

Thanks to your support, TSRI is breaking new ground in treating and curing conditions like MS and obesity, which affect the lives of millions worldwide. Help us continue our work toward medications to treat these diseases.

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Ron Davis

TSRI Department of Neuroscience Chairman Ron Davis.

milestones in medical science:
Proteins Vital to Long-Term Memory

A family of proteins called Wnts sends signals from the outside of a cell to the inside, inducing a cellular response crucial to many aspects of embryonic development, including stem cell differentiation. The process is also crucial to the normal functioning of the adult brain.

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have found that Wnts are essential to the formation of long-term memories. When the function of three proteins in the Wnt signaling pathway were removed, the team found that there was a disruption in the formation of long-term, but not short-term memories.

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Supriya Srinivasan

TSRI Assistant Professor Supriya Srinivasan.

Other News:
A Potential New Weight-Loss Therapy

Serotonin signaling, which can be increased artificially by some diet and antidepressant drugs, has been known to reduce weight. Until recently, scientists assumed that it does so largely by suppressing appetite and food intake.

Now, TSRI scientists, led by Assistant Professor Supriya Srinivasan, have discovered that in roundworms the neurotransmitter adrenaline combines with serotonin to send the "lose weight" signal and that altering both serotonin and adrenaline facilitated weight loss in the worms regardless of how much food they were consuming. This could help develop new weight-loss therapies for people.

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Intern Eric Chen Wins Google's Grand Prize

17-year-old Eric Chen, a TSRI intern, won the grand prize in the 2013 Google Science Fair for his project to help discover a medicine that works against all strains of influenza.

"It was extremely impressive that Eric was able come to our lab as a high school student with lots of ideas on how to tackle influenza virus and then proceed to follow through on them in the lab," said TSRI Professor Ian Wilson.

Chen was awarded a $50,000 scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic.

facts & figures

Multiple sclerosis (MS) currently affects more than two people million worldwide.

The Scripps Research Institute


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